(Editor's note: This article has been updated throughout.)
Even if Dr. Howard Diamond is successful in his bid to be released from jail to await his federal trial on numerous charges, his prescribing days are behind him, at least temporarily.
The Texas Medical Board suspended his medical license Thursday, at least temporarily. In a prepared statement, the board said it made the decision, “after determining his continuation in the practice of medicine poses a continuing threat to public welfare.” The suspension was effective immediately and remains in place unless the board takes further action.
Charges Diamond faces include conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substances, money laundering and abetting, distribution of controlled substances and health care fraud, and aiding and abetting. The charges also link Diamond’s prescriptions to the overdose deaths of seven people. Diamond pleaded not guilty to those charges.
He remains in custody at the Fannin County Jail while a federal magistrate judge wrestles with whether or not to allow him to get out of jail to await his trial on those charges. During recent hearings on the matter, the Judge Christine Nowak seemed to be weighing ways to keep Diamond from prescribing medication if he were released from custody. Friday evening, Diamond’s attorney Pete Schulte said Nowak had not yet ruled on the detention matter.
The TMB board’s statement said it will hold a temporary suspension hearing will be held as soon as possible unless waived by Diamond.
Although the federal indictment lists seven people who are believed to have died from overdoses on medication they received through prescriptions from Diamond, at a detention hearing, a government witness said 15 more deaths are being investigated for connections to Diamond.
Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that Diamond’s prescribing of opioids outpaced every other Texas doctor except one in 2014.
CMS data shows that Diamond’s opioid claim count was 11,035 in 2014. “The claim count is the number of Medicare Part D opioid drug claims, including original prescriptions and refills,” CMS says. Diamond ranked 24th in the nation, according to the 2014 CMS data.
Herald Democrat Executive Editor Jonathan Cannon contributed to this report.